Overlooked Elk Essentials

September screams ELK! Are you ready to answer the call?

It’s the time of year when bowhunters have an opportunity to converse with elk in an up-close and personal dialogue. In fact, as you read this I’m likely camped out in the backcountry with only my horse and mule as company … plus the hopeful encounter of an amorous elk.

Elk hunting gear is as common as whitetail gear. My Mathews Creed XS, the same bow I use whitetail hunting, is on the scene along with my GPS, raingear, etc. I could go on and on, but you get the point. Prep your gear and be prepared. But are you?

Here are a few items you might overlook in your haste to begin the conversation with elk. Get excited, but not so excited that you forget essential gear on your upcoming archery elk hunt.

  • Pack meat bags. Lightweight or cheesecloth-style meat bags are a must during September elk hunts. Temperatures may drop below freezing at night, but during the day you can expect some temperature spikes to 70 degrees or beyond. These bags help protect your meat from contamination such as bugs and dirt. You can also hang the bags in the shade to cool meat—or even submerge them in a creek if temperatures are extreme. Regardless of the conditions, pack along meat bags to ensure some great steaks later.
  • Take along a “freighter style” pack. Along with meat bags, you’ll need a freighter-style pack to get your elk out. Even with horse power tied up nearby, I always keep a freighter pack nearby to haul quarters from steep terrain that I don’t want to ride my mounts down into for fear of a wreck. You can hunt with a larger pack or keep it back at camp while you don a daypack, but have one ready so you can move your elk from the kill site.
  • Bring maps and a compass. Most hunters go afield with a GPS or some with their smartphones equipped with mapping downloads. For backup, comparison and a larger field of view I always carry a paper map as well. Plus, I backup my GPS’s compass with a traditional one. Keep it away from metal and electronics, and it can confirm what your digital devices are telling you. Use all three together and you’ll never get lost … or at least let’s hope not.
  • Don’t forget backup communication. Smartphones are wonders, but they only work when they can link with a tower. Don’t bet on it in the backcountry. Consider taking along a two-way radio to talk with hunting partners and to possibly broadcast to other hunters in case of an emergency. If you really want to keep in touch with loved ones, look at devices such as the Spot Gen3. This satellite messenger sends updates on your location and can broadcast an SOS, giving your exact location to helpers.
  • Have hydration considerations in mind. Finally, you likely packed food and water, but what if you run out of the latter? Consider purchasing a water filter or in the very least tablets to treat water in case you can’t get back to camp for a refresher. Look at Katadyn for leading examples of water purification products.

Enjoy your elk hunt no matter what, but you’ll enjoy it even better with proper planning.

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